Modals and quasi-modals in New Englishes

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Recent research on modals and quasi-modals has identified two complementary trends: a rise in the popularity of quasi-modals and a decline in that of modals. There is a strong tendency for American rather than British English to be leading the way in these developments. Furthermore, quasi-modals are thriving in speech, their modal counterparts in writing. This chapter investigates the distribution of a set of semantically similar modals and quasi-modals in a set of matching components of the International Corpus of English. The findings suggest, inter alia, that in the “Inner Circle” it is American English that is predominantly in the box seat in the rise of the quasi-modals and the decline of the modals, and that in the “Outer Circle” it is the more established Englishes that tend to be more advanced in these trends. Keywords: modal; quasi-modal; New Englishes; corpus


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